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The RPG Files: Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pushes RPGs to New Heights

Columns By Christopher Coke on September 18, 2015

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pushes RPGs to New Heights

Earlier this month, Larian Studios unveiled a project that can only be called revolutionary. The game, Divinity: Original Sin 2, a sequel to last year’s Original Sin. Don’t let the old school isometric camera fool you: Original Sin 2 is one of the most revolutionary RPGs in years.

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The good news is people seem to be noticing. Since the Kickstarter launched at the end of August, it has earned nearly one-and-a-half million dollars of the original 500K ask, and has a week and a half left to go. It’s not hard to imagine a final week push bringing in an extra hundred thousand, especially since Larian is offering off some seriously tempting stretch goals. Rather than fluff it up, Larian’s extra funding is supporting new origin stories, playable races, skill trees, and even player housing in the halls of purgatory!

But, let’s be real, Larian didn’t need any of these things to fund Original Sin 2. The, ahem, original Original Sin was good enough that players would have been clamoring to dump out their wallets even if Larian was just offering more of the same. But they weren’t. Instead, they’re using the original as a foundation to build a bigger game that is better in every conceivable way.

Just like before, players will scour the world in a party of four. But unlike OS1, your interaction  isn’t just limited to one character and the occasional argument between protagonists. Instead, every party member is free to roleplay their way through the world, carving their path through every story and situation. No NPC is free from this; they’re all written to talk to the character they’re actually talking to, not just who the writers want to be speaking. Their reactions, and your path through the quest, will be different based on pure roleplay. That’s replay value, right there, and it also means your path through a quest might be completely different from my own.

Imagine, splitting up your party in a town, because the rogue doesn’t agree with the virtuous busybody calling the shots. Mr. Busybody insists on playing by the rules, but your rogue is suited to back alley deals and well-placed daggers, so he makes a deal with a local tough for information. You switch between the group and the rogue, each following their own quest path, each able to double cross the other or sabotage their efforts with a whispered word to the authorities.

What this does is allow you to roleplay four simultaneous characters through a single campaign. For the first time in years, your party members are more than just written counterparts; they’re real characters. It also means that Original Sin 2 will be one of the deepest roleplay experiences in years. One of Larian’s goals with this Kickstarter was to hire writing teams specific to each character. Imagine the permutation! Imagine how many ways every quest could unfold! More than that, imagine what that means for how you will experience each quest. You could replay the game four times and still find yourself not seeing all it has to offer.

Original Sin 2 may be the deepest roleplaying ever created in its genre.

And yet, I think Larian is badly mismarketing this incredible selling point. Nearly all you’re hearing from their camp is “competitive multiplayer” this and “sabotage your friends” that. Forgive me, but who cares? Did anybody really play Original Sin for it’s multiplayer? Two-player dialogue was cool, but even then it was about working together, not seeing who can be the biggest troll.

This whole approach just diminishes what they’re really accomplishing. When they’re talking about poisoning their buddy’s potion and getting them locked up in jail to take their quest reward, nobody is paying attention to the incredible dialogue and roleplay systems that make that all possible. To be fair, they are talking about it. It’s a piece of the conversation too, as this article proves, but it has been so overshadowed by competitive multiplayer that many gamers aren’t even aware of how cool this four-character world building really is.

For my part, I can’t wait to hear more. Sabotage Your Friends will fall by the wayside as we continue to find out more about what’s possible in a world written for simultaneous roleplay. This is an exciting, exciting game, and other studios should watch closely what Larian is about to accomplish.

Quick Hits

Bethesda has been highlighting the stats in November’s Fallout 4. This week, we have Perception, but don’t forget to check out Strength if you’re a fan! Bethesda has also been producing in-house developer interviews. There are two up currently, one on player freedom and the other on customization. Check them out here.

Bloodbourne is getting an expansion! Titled “The Old Hunters,” Sony has confirmed that this will be a full expansion and is due out November 24th.

Speaking of super-duper hardcore games, Dark Souls 3 finally received a release date! For Japan. Sorry guys. On the plus side, it means that our own wait won’t shouldn’t be too much longer. Dark Souls 3 launches in Japan on March 23rd of next year. (Editor's note: After this writing, it was revealed that the Americas release of Dark Souls 3 will be in April 2016)

Save us, Five Nights at Freddy’s is getting an RPG. On the plus side, maybe this will help the Let’s Play kiddos figure out a new genre of games.

Rebel Galaxy has received a release date. The RPG all about being a swashbuckling space pirate is releasing on PC on October 21st. Don’t forget, Rebel Galaxy is cross-platform, so you’ll be able to play with your PC friends if you’d rather swashbuckle reclined and cushioned.

Lastly, the most interesting man in action-RPGs, Victor Vran is getting a hardcore mode. Hardcore limits items to those found by your character or other hardcore players. There’s no permadeath, however. If you die, you’ve proven you’re not hardcore enough and will have the status stripped from you like the peon you are.

Have a great week, RPG fans!

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.